|Born Maria Teresa Violante Piccolomini Clementini in Siena on 5 March 1834, her aristocratic parents were initially opposed to their daughter pursuing an operatic career, but eventually relented. Her debut was at Rome (1852) in Poliuto and Don Bucefalo. Later in the same year she sang Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence, which is sometimes wrongly given as her debut. Barely eighteen, the Florentine audience disparaged the idea of so young a performer singing such a role. She was the first Violetta in the English premiere of La Traviata, a role she repeated to great acclaim throughout Italy.
On 20 September 1858 she made her first appearance in America, once again in La Traviata. Wherever she appeared, crowds would surround her carriages and hotels. She frequently gave the proceeds from her performances to the poor. She retired from the stage in 1860 when she married the Marchese Gaetani della Fargia, but returned one last time the following year for a benefit concert in aid of the victims of an earthquake in central Italy.
A contemporary description: "She was agreeable, sprightly, petite, with a vivacious grace of manner perfectly bewitching. Her figure is slender and extremely elegant; her features are bright, and capable of expressing the rapid transitions of varying emotion. . . . " Her voice was "a high soprano, fresh and youthful, but in range perhaps a little more than two octaves, crisp and flexible, pretty fluent, and rather sweet than powerful."
Marietta Piccolomini died in Italy, at Poggio Imperiale, on 20 December 1899.
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